Comparison of Face to Face and Email Negotiation

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Many business people relies on face to face negotiation in bargaining with their customers, clients, suppliers, holding meetings and even carrying out interviews in the organization. The Emerging of technology and internet across the world has made many business managers shift their negotiation to email type of bargaining (Kokemuller, 2018). The low cost nature of email negotiation has accelerated the shift from face to face to email negotiation. Many studies also indicate that email type of bargaining saves time as the communication is usually carried online. This is the main reason why we have seen many business organizations having meetings with other business partners, suppliers, and employees’ online (karrrass, 2011). Social motivation is a vital component in any negotiation. The motivated individuals taking part in any business negotiation will always ensure the whole process is successful (Olekalns & Smith, 2003). This paper will discuss the process and outcome of both face to face and email negotiation and compare the two types of communication.

Process of face to face and email negotiation

Face to face negotiations usually are negotiations carried out verbally with the presence of all the parties concerned.  According to John (2008) many business organizations used this type of negotiation to settle many disputes among business employees. This type of negotiation was time-consuming as some parties involved in the negotiation could not turn up for the negation hence delayed the whole process. Face to face negotiation usually involves personal social connection which is generally attained verbally between negotiating parties (Schneiter, 2012). This type of negotiation involves parties coming together and interacts with one another with key aim of reaching mutual agreement.

On the other hand, the parties taking part in email negotiations usually rely on the computers to carry out these types of negotiations (Thompson & Nadler, 2013). Email negotiation is generally carried out on the internet through online platforms like emails. Unlike face to face negations, email negotiations are usually conducted non-verbal ways (Drolet& Morris, 2011; Galin, Gross, &Gosalker, 2007). For instance, managers may decide to negotiate the prices of certain goods through emails with suppliers without physical contact.

The outcome of face to face and email negotiations

The result of face to face negotiation is usually positive. Furthermore, it also involves the physical interaction of parties participating in the negotiation. This physical interpersonal interaction creates social motivation which leads to efficiency in the negotiation process (Olekalns & Smith, 2013). The social motivation leads to mutual trust between parties engaging in a transaction. There will be minimal conflicts in such type of negotiation due to mutual trust between the parties. The individuals participating in the negotiation will contribute without fear about the topic of negotiation.

Email negotiations are usually fast, and parties involved in this type of bargaining only need a computer and internet to start the negotiation the process. Failure to involve interpersonal interaction lowers the social motivations of people participating in negotiation which results in an ineffective outcome(Stuhlmacher & Citera, 2015).

The complexity of email negotiation

Many types of research show that although email negotiation is fast and economic friendly, this type of bargaining is less efficient. Email negotiations are usually complicated compared to face to face negotiation. (Thompson & Nadler, 2013) investigated computers oriented kind of negotiation and found out that bargaining through online platforms can be difficult in many ways. Email negation always requires people with high creativity unlike face to face negotiation that involves people who can only negotiate (Lewicki, Saunders, Barry, & Minton, 2004). No one can participate in email negation without the knowledge of and skills of the computer, unlike face to face negation which only requires the participant to be physically available. Lewicki, Saunders, Barry, & Minton also suggested that for one to involve an email negotiation, he must know the interest of the two parties.

Parties involved in email negotiation always tend to misunderstand each other. (Pon Staff, 2018) suggested that misunderstanding usually arises when the tone and emotion of the two parties are difficult to comprehend. One party taking part in negotiation may even go ahead and neglect another party’s perspective which may cause conflict between the parties. Buffering may also make email negotiation complicated.  Buffering which is usually as a result of indigent network delaying parties from obtaining feedback from one another during the negotiation process. 

Outcomes of email negotiation

Most emails negotiations usually lead to poor outcomes, since there is a limited interpersonal interaction between the parties involved in the whole. The absence of interpersonal interactions results in less social motivations between the parties (O’connor&Carnevale, 2014; Steinel& De Dreu, 2004). Email negotiation also leads to less rapport (Morris et al., 2002). Morris et al., (2002) suggested that once the people involved in email negotiation have no concern in the interpersonal relationship, they will have no motivation to establish the rapport.  Negotiations which are done online through computers creates different  perceptions and alters the orientation toward the future negotiation (Thompson & Nadler, 2013).

Parlamis & Ames (2010) suggested that email negotiation provide no emotion to overcome a given scenario. Less social motivation leads to less social concern resulting in the ineffective negotiation process. Parties participating in email negation are also unlikely to reach the agreement due to misunderstanding as result of the party not identifying the tone of another. Email negotiation lowers the trust between negotiating parties. Email negotiation tends to cause either one or both parties unsatisfied with the outcome of bargaining. There is usually no time for either party to defend their own opinion. The perspective is generally justified in the next negotiation.

Although many organization prefers email negotiation, face to face negotiation is still the best type of negotiation. Business organizations using email negotiations should use the appropriate and fast network that delay conversations during communication. Individuals engaging in email negotiation should always give other parties adequate time before negotiating their perspectives. Their perspectives may be a key to the success of the various business organization.


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January 19, 2024


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